American sycamore protected during Donovan demolition


This American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) is under a tree protection plan during the demolition of Donovan Hall and construction of the Academic Science Center.  Tree protection plans are an agreement between UK and development companies that requires building contractors to follow certain rules that promote tree care through the duration of construction projects.  Looking closely at this photograph, you can see a chain-link fence creating a perimeter around the tree.  As part of the plan, no equipment is to be driven or stored within this barrier.  This is intended to alleviate soil compaction, one of the most common problems associated with health decline in urban trees.


How old is this American sycamore tree?

We don't know exactly, but this photograph was taken in 1955, just after Donovan Hall was built.  The yellow outline is the current location of the protected tree.  We can say for sure that the American sycamore was planted after 1955, meaning the tree is less than 60 years old!


Donovan Hall in 1955



Update - June 2015


Another growing season is in full swing as construction continues on the Academic Science Building. The area outside of the sycamore protection barrier has undergone a radical transformation, as seen in the below photograph. There has been some loss of foliage in the tree, some due to pruning of the lower branches. We will continue to monitor the American sycamore throughout this project.


Construction of Academic Science Building; University of Kentucky Campus, June 2015 (N. Williamson)



  1. American sycamore under a Tree Protection plan during the demolition of Donovan Hall (Sept. 2014) (N. Williamson)
  2. Donovan Hall recently after construction; present location of sycamore outlined in yellow (1955) (UK Archives)
  3.  Construction continues on Academic Science Building (June 2015) (N. Williamson)


About the Author

Nic Williamson is an Urban Forestry Extension Associate and full-time staff member of the Urban Forest Initiative at the University of Kentucky. He can be reached at